May 032016
 

My opinion of the Wotancraft Ryker, Scout and the new Leica 28 Cron

by Dan Bar

Hello Steve and Brandon!

About a week ago I received my new 28 cron. It is the first time I use a 28 as I am a 35\50 guy. I was really curious to see how I felt about it. I also read Steve’s articles about the Wotancraft 2 bags + read all articles related, so I bought a new Scout a few months ago, and when I heard a friend of mine ( Tomer Vaknin) wanted to change his Ryker ( his was brown and he bought a new Ona Berlin Black) I immediately gave him one of my BLACK bags and took his BROWN Ryker.

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There are a lot of article\reviews about those bags and i am no expert, so I will just emphasize my opinion and thoughts. Both bags are beautiful , the Ryker is is made of the finest smooth leather and looks beautiful, as a matter of fact to my eyes it is the most beautiful bag on the market. It is not big and it can hold two Leica M cameras with lenses and no more ( in the main department of course). The front department has no zipper which is not safe, so I will never keep batteries of memory cards there. Next is a zipped pocket which can hold the cards + batteries but it is not separated into 2 pockets and that makes it uncomfortable to carry a few things together.

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Nobody mentions it is a heavy bag. You could go to the articles and see it is 1.675 grams but I don’t intend to write a review. I simply mention my feelings. It is a heavy bag, even with one camera ( no BATTERY and charger). It is heavier than the scout wich is bigger. That of course is a leather side effect.

So I will use this bag for only one camera + charger, some batteries , memory cards etc. All being said i love the look of this bag, the leather quality. Everything here shouts top-notch. Oh, unlike my friend Tomer I love the brown color which will age nicer than the black version ( in my opinion). You can see more at WOTANCRAFT.com

THE LEICA 28 CRON

As said I received my 28 Cron a week ago, so I did not have much time with it, As with the bags I shall only write about my feelings. The lens is a beauty. It is small beautifully built like all Leica lenses , very comfortable to use, it is not a heavy and the best thing is the metal hood which is compact and this time screwed to the body so no more accidents with it. I think it is a very sharp lens with a nice bokeh. It is very light and I know LEICA people love the Cron version.

Here are some of the photos of the 28 shot with the Leica 246 of my family..

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Thank you and take care!

Danny

Apr 182016
 

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PIMP YOUR SONY RX1 MKII with these awesome accessories!

I have to say, I love my Sony RX1R MKII. I loved the original, then the R and now the MKII is what I feel is the smallest body on the market with the most serious IQ and capabilities, IF 35mm is your thing. In other words, there is no camera that is this size or smaller that packs this kind of IQ, low light and full on potential. The Sony RX1 series has sort of a cult following as the ones who own it and use it seem  to truly adore it, and those who never did bond with it just sold them. But no matter how you look at it, the RX1R MKII, or any of the RX1 series of cameras can produce stunning results in the right hands.

I often get asked “what strap do you use” or “what bag was that in your last video” or “hey, what shutter release is that” or even “what grip are you using”. I get these questions very often, and this post is going to tell all of you exactly what I did to my Sony RX1R II to make it my own, and make it much more comfy to use.

I will show you two grips I love and recommend, the best soft release I have found to date (for ANY camera), the sun shade I chose for my RX1RII that is much more affordable than the Sony version as well as what strap I use when I use one on this camera. Usually though, I have it in a small bag and without a strap.

First, check out the video to see it all

Then, below, , check out these two grips for the RX1R Mark II (NOTE: These will NOT fit the old Mark I versions as the MKII body has changed ever so slightly)

FROM METRO-CASE.COM 

This for fitting sleek and functional grip is quite nice. When I attached it to my RX1RII I was pleased with the design, looks, the way it keeps me from pressing the video/movie button and the fact that it is compatible with ARCA SWISS style plates. It also adds a nice grip to the camera while looking like it fits in with the design of the Sony itself. It has a solid feel and construction and for most, this would be the perfect grip. Click the stats below to see more or order. Price is $89 direct at METRO-CASE.COM

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FROM J.B. DESIGNS

I LOVE LOVE LOVE JB Grips! The wooden materials and nice design mean my cameras always look unique and cool when a JB Grip is rocking it. While this look is not for everyone (some will prefer the sleek design above from METRO-CASE, but some will also prefer this all natural wood look as it really gives off a nice vibe and makes the camera look a bit old school, a bit different and it feels great in the hand. I love this grip because of the look, design and the way it feels on the hand. It is easy to remove, lets me have full access to memory and battery and can mount on a tripod. This JB Grip is $85 and available at AMAZON HERE!

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LENS HOOD

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I looked for a nice lens hood for my RX1RII and ended up buying THIS ONE from Fotodiox on Amazon. It is all metal, is squared off and looks perfect on the camera. Not much else to say about this as its a lens hood but it does the job, looks great, is all metal and while not dirt cheap, it is well worth the cost. You can see it at Amazon HERE.

SHUTTER RELEASE – Best release I have ever found!

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WOW! I stopped buying shutter soft releases quite a while ago. WHY? They always fell off. The screw in models fell off almost daily, and they would be lost forever. Then there were even some stick ons that would always fall off as well. I gave up. UNTIL NOW. Check these out guys and see me attach one to my Sony A7RII in the video above. These come in all sizes and all shapes and are attractive with a clean design. You can go with concave or convex and 10mm or 13mm. All kinds of colors to choose from and they are not expensive coming in at $9-$15

Check them out HERE.

STRAPS?

I have to say, I do not use a NECK strap with my RX1RII often, but when I do it is this one. I always love smaller leather straps, and this one is affordable and nice ;)

 but I do use this WRIST strap from LV Designs more often.

BATTERIES – SPARES and EXTRAS

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I must have 12 batteries for the RX1/RX100’s around here but most of them are cheap spares I bought from Amazon, along with a cheap dual charger that works amazingly well. The batteries can be found cheap HERE (Two for $12) and the charger I use is HERE Highly recommended! 

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PLEASE! I NEED YOUR HELP TO KEEP THIS WEBSITE RUNNING, IT IS SO EASY AND FREEE for you to HELP OUT!

Hello to all! For the past 7 years I have been running this website and it has grown to beyond my wildest dreams. Some days this very website has over 200,000 visitors and because of this I need and use superfast dedicated web servers to host the site. Running this site costs quite a bit of cash every single month and on top of that, I work full-time 60+ hours a week on it each and every single day of the week (I receive 100-300 emails a DAY). Because of this, I could use YOUR help to cover my costs for this free information that is provided on a daily basis. 

To help out it is simple, and no, I am not asking you for a penny!!

If you ever decide to make a purchase from B&H Photo or Amazon, for ANYTHING, even diapers..you can help me without spending a penny to do so. If you use my links to make your purchase (when you click a link here and it takes you to B&H or Amazon, that is using my links as once there you can buy anything and I will get a teeny small credit) you will in turn be helping this site to keep on going and keep on growing.

Not only do I spend money on fast hosting but I also spend it on cameras to buy to review, lenses to review, bags to review, gas and travel, and a slew of other things. You would be amazed at what it costs me just to maintain this website, in money and time (250 hours a month, and about $3000 per month).

So all I ask is that if you find the free info on this website useful AND you ever need to make a purchase at B&H Photo or Amazon, just use the links below. You can even bookmark the Amazon link (not the B&H) and use it anytime you buy something. It costs you nothing extra but will provide me and this site with a dollar or two to keep on trucking along.

AMAZON LINK (you can bookmark this one)

B&H PHOTO LINK – (not bookmark able) Can also use my search bar on the right side or links within reviews, anytime.

Outside of the USA? Use my worldwide Amazon links HERE!

You can also follow me on Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube. ;)

One other way to help is by donation. If you want to donate to this site, any amount you choose, even $5, you can do so using the paypal link HERE and enter in your donation amount. All donations help to keep this site going and growing! I do not charge any member fees nor do I (nor will I ever) charge for reviews, so your donations go a long way to keeping this site loaded with useful content. If you choose to help out, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Apr 042016
 

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The new Oberwerth MUNCHEN Camera Bag. Made in Germany.

(From Steve: I posted this earlier but had the wrong NAME for the bag, well, wrong model. Silly me. I thought I was sent the Freiburg but was sent the MUNCHEN, so this is a repost with some corrections!)

I have had the pleasure of using the new Oberwerth Munchen camera bag for the last 7-10 days, even traveling with it twice last week and now that I am home bound all this week due to something out of my control I have decided to sit down and write some brief thoughts on this new camera bag that has been my companion over thousands of miles of traveling already. For those who just like plain black bags, this one may not be for you but for the photographers out there who like style and function (and there are thousands), keep reading.

If you have read the pages here on my website/blog over the years you will have seen countless camera bag reviews. From Think Tank, Billingham, Crumpler, Wotancraft, HoldFastGear, Tenba and more. These are the names that stick out in my head for quality bags that can last one a lifetime of shooting. Some are prettier than others, some are more functional than others. The main bags I have stuck with for my personal use, up to now, have been WOTANCRAFT for my day to day shooting and HOLDFAST for my travel bag needs (they are larger). But I love all bags and two weeks ago I was stuck on my Tenba Cooper bag, which is also a fantastic functional and good looking bag.

With all of that out of the way, I am here now to speak about a new bag that has the looks, the build quality and the feel of a premium high end camera bag. That is this new Oberwerth Munchen.

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The “München“ is the larger photo bag of the Oberwerth product range. Very spacious and with a timeless appearance, equipped with numerous additional storage compartments for photo equipment, laptop, tablet or PDA. Both front pockets provide enough space to stow personal items, independent of the camera. The well thought-out, removable insert with a closable top allows the storage of the gear also outside of the bag. Placed in the shoulder strap, an invisible cut resistant device ensures you and your photo bag are inseparable. The “München” adapts to your own style and is a perfect companion not only for the serious photographer but also for the office or a business trip.

Photo bag München: “The larger one”

A spacious partner for the engaged photographer with a practical, removable insert
Durable CORDURA® and high-quality leather protects the equipment against shocks, moisture or other external influences
Air-cushioned insert for camera and accessories included
Additional compartments for smart cards
Spacious front pockets provide additional space for personal items or further gear
Practical additional compartments for laptop, tablet, PDA and documents
Attuned to the Oberwerth product range available in CORDURA® and leather combinations
Like all Oberwerth bags: 100% handmade in Germany!

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While I prefer the black/brown color they offer over this beige/cowhide version even this one is super nice and attractive. The inside is spacious enough for even a DSLR and a couple of lenses yet the bag is still on the small to medium side. The huge leather flap on the top is nice and thick and feels solid like it will really protect the gear under its umbrella. Open that up using the nice connectors and you will see a protective flap inside that will give an added layer of gear protection. You have leather rain flaps on the inner sides as well. This will ensure that even if you are out in the rain, water should not get inside. I have not had the luck to be out in rain recently so I have not tested this aspect of it but maybe I will head out back with the hose and give it a wash down, with gear inside ;)

For me, the black version may be the sweetest looking camera bag ever, in the same vein as Billingham and Wotancraft. In fact, the Munchen is almost perfect for me, ALMOST. 

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With so many bags I have here on hand, I pick my daily bag  these days depending on mood, what I am needing to carry and how large I want or need to go. If traveling, does it have a place for my 13″ macbook? The MUNCHEN does, and it worked very well for my last travels as it keeps it shape and is easy to store under an airline seat in front of you. It slides under perfectly and gives you very open and clear access to all compartments and it does indeed hold my 13″ laptop quite well, perfectly. It will not hold a 15″ btw.

The Oberwerth bag is quite nice when I study the details. Quality is here all the way around, and I feel it is a bag that will outlast the rest of my shooting days easily.

The one weakness I found for my use…

As I used the bag, walking through dirt, sand and heat..even setting it down where a stream of water soaked the bottom, it held up perfectly and when dusted off and cleaned looks as new besides the unique scuffs I put into the leather from actual use of the bag. It is a sturdy bag but I missed having pockets on the ends/side of the bag. I am used to storing cables or my phone or whatever into an outer side pocket and the MUNCHEN does not have any. What it does have is pockets and compartments inside, which makes up for it somewhat but there is no quick access to them as there would be on the side. I understand the reason for leaving them out, as it seems this bag balances a fine line between STYLE and FUNCTION. The easiest way for me to describe my thoughts here is to say that it is stylish as all get out but has 95% function instead of 100%. 95% only because there are no side pockets. With that, there is plenty of room inside after you raise the flap.

One of the unique things I love about this bag though it is the strap on the back for sliding onto your luggage handle when traveling. It is attached via velcro normally, so it stays out of the way when not using it. In fact, I did not even know it was there until I traveled and really looked for this. This is a must on travel bags for me, and this one implements it better than I have seen elsewhere. It stays on my luggage nice and firmly making it easier as I travel through large airports.

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I was using this bag for a Sony A7RII and three lenses along with my 13″ Macbook Pro and some cables, accessories and chargers. I also used it for an Olympus E-M5 II system with 4 lenses. It can even hold a Leica SL with a few M lenses. I can see it also being used with a smaller DSLR system but not a huge large FF system with zooms.

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The Oberwerth MUNCHEN is a stunning high end bag that looks nice, is built to the highest standard, will protect your gear from the elements and will wear in with a nice gorgeous patina over the years. If you want a bag to last you for many many years and like the looks of this offering, take a look at them closer at Oberwerth’s website. 

The MUNCHEN is NOT cheap my friends. Think FOGG BAGG prices. This is what quality costs these days in exotic “made in Germany” bags. This bag comes in at $635  Would I spend $635 to buy this? Well, that would be a tough sell for me, but I am not rich and I already own around 13 bags :0

But for the ones who have been looking for that perfect, nice, higher end bag to last them the rest of their lifetime, this may be the one you have been waiting for. Think Fogg quality here my friends, up at the top of the quality heap.

Drew & Barry also are the Asian distributors for Oberwerth, so check their site out here and give them a facebook like HERE. They were nice enough to send me this bag out for review, and I am glad they did as it introduced me to yet another wonderful line of camera bags. 

Mar 212016
 

REVIEWS ON THE WAY: Sony A6300, 24-70 and 85 1.4 & Oberwerth Camera Bag

Sony Sony Sony! They are still on top of their game!

Just a note to let everyone know that I am receiving a load of goodies today via Fed Ex! The new Sony A6300, which I had a preview of two weeks ago. It is the successor to the hottest selling mirrorless camera over $600, the original A6000 (which I still own). The A6000 has been WILDLY popular and partly responsible for Sony’s huge growth over the past few years and can now be had for $498! The 6000 along with the hot A7 series has propelled Sony to the top of the Mirrorless heap for sales. Now with the new A6300, they expect to keep on track.

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The A6300 is fast, VERY fast. When I shot it in Miami a couple of weeks back it had some impressive AF tracking going on, but I knew I needed it at home for a while to really give it a fair review. I will be comparing it to the A6000, and testing some cool lenses on it as well. The inexpensive 28 f/2 from Sony which is an amazing lens, should be perfect on the A6000 giving a sort of 35mm equivalent. This would put a world class APS-C camera and fast 28mm f.2 lens in your hands for under $1500. Still a hunk of cash but I feel this combo would be blazing fast, accurate, and great in low light. Also, smaller and much less $$$ than a full bore A7RII setup.

I will also test the new 24-70 f/2.8 and 85 1.4 on the 6300 as well as the A7RII. See my earlier tests HERE and HERE

Loads of goodies to test and review makes me a happy man ;) So look for the Sony reviews SOON.

New Camera Bag. The Oberwerth Freiburg Bag. 

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I also just received this new lovely bag from Oberwerth. It is the Freiburg model and is gorgeous. Hand made in Germany, and expensive, but one of those with true quality. I love my Wotancraft bags and my Hold Fast Gear bags and my Tenba bag, but this one is a step up in “class” and in appearance, for those with not only discriminating taste but those who enjoy a spacious bag to hold their gear and goods. I will have a video up this week for the Freiburg bag, look for it by Thursday!

You can see more about Oberworth bags HERE. 

Mar 182016
 

The handcrafted JB Camera Designs Grip for Fuji X Pro 2

by Jason Boucher – His website is HERE

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Last week I was in Stillwater, Oklahoma to ride the Landrun 100 gravel road race & ride, pics can be found here. While there I got to see one of my closest friends’ businesses, JB Camera Designs. JB Camera Designs makes hand crafted wood camera grips and accessories that are aimed to improve ergonomics and add protection to cameras.

They are hand crafted right here in the good ol’ USA out of beautiful hard wood, bambo, plastic and/or machined alloy. On top of that, all three employees are photographers and the two primary craftsmen are also engineering students. What a cool college job.

While I was there, JB and crew (Ean and Eli) were putting the finishing touches on their new grip for the Fuji X Pro 2. In fact, the grip being produced in the photographs below is now mounted to my very own Fuji X Pro 2. I shot all these images with the X Pro 2 with either the 16mm f1.4 or 35mm f2 in RAW + JPEG with the JPEG setting to Acros with medium grain. I thought it fit the handcrafted nature of the grips. All these images shared are from JPEG as I have not processed any RAW files yet from the X Pro 2 but I find the JPEGS more than pleasing so it hasn’t been a big deal for me.

Below are some shots from my time at JB Camera Designs while they were making their new Fuji X Pro 2 grip, recently launched and available for pre-order at Amazon. I grouped the images into some of the steps. These grips are a labor of love. All the details of the how and what happens at each step are not really mine to share so I’ll just share pics. I can tell you that the grips I am using on my Leica M and my Fuji X Pro 2 are really beautiful, fit perfectly and in my opinion have improved the overall shooting experience. I especially like the new grip with my larger Fuji lenses and especially with the 90 f2. It has really helped me improve my grip to stabalize my shooting with this longer and heavier prime.

A couple of notes before moving to pictures…

My friend JB did give me this grip. I just want to be up front and honest here. He’s a close friend and this was a gift. I am thankful. I make no money from this nor any affiliated link. I just enjoyed the experience and wanted to support my good friend. I like the pics too!

So with that out of the way, let’s get to pics of the new Fuji X Pro 2 grip.

Wood selection and initial preparation

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Cutting, shaping, smoothing, sanding and prepping

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Branding, finishing and adding alloy barrel grip

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The finished product! I love it.

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I wish I had a studio to shoot images of the final product installed on my X Pro 2 but I don’t. But…Here is a shot taken with my little Fuji X70 for you to get an idea of what it looks like on the camera. I took this on the way home from Oklahoma. I had 12 hours of driving that day and needed a nice espresso! I snapped a few pics and then hit the road. Sorry for the poor picture quality on this one, but it’s all I’ve got.

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Thanks again JB. Great seeing you and meeting your crew!

You can purchase the X-Pro 2 JB Grip at Amazon HERE

See ALL of the JB Designs GRIPS HERE

(FROM STEVE: I loved my JB Designs grip so much I invited them to be a sponsor for this site over a year ago, and they now are. These are high quality grips priced right. Love all of my JB grips ;) HIGHLY recommended for those who like a grip for added..well..GRIP!)

Mar 082016
 

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ONA BAGS has just launched the new Clifton ALL Leather backpack for photographers. You can see it HERE and it is beautiful as most ONA bags are. I still own three Ona Bags and often use the small Bowery.  This time around ONA has released something for the fashion crowd, as in, those who like their bags to look good while wearing them. While many of us just prefer an all black canvas bag, some prefer the look, smell and patina that leather gives, so ONA released this for those of you who want a functional backpack for your gear and to look great while using it.

See images below of the new ONA Clifton, and you can see more about it or order it at ONA BAGS HERE. 

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Mar 072016
 

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PRESS RELEASE: New Sony HX80 Compact Camera and Wireless Flash System Announced

Sony has announced the new HX80 Compact camera which I had a small preview of last week while in Miami shooting the new 24-70 f/2.8 and 85 1.4 G Master lenses. It is a compact, smaller than the RX100 series and comes in at an affordable $349. Below is the press release and stats for the HX80 and the new Wireless Flash System for the Sony system..which has finally been created ;)

Sony Announces New HX80 Compact Camera with 30x Zoom and Electronic Viewfinder

New Model is World’s Smallest Camera with 30x Optical Zoom Lens1

SAN DIEGO, Mar. 7, 2016 – Sony Electronics, a worldwide leader in digital imaging and the world’s largest image sensor manufacturer, has today introduced the newest addition to their compact zoom camera lineup, the DSC-HX80 model.

The new camera features a variety of advanced imaging capabilities including 30x optical zoom, a high-resolution 18.2 MP2 Exmor R CMOS Sensor and a retractable OLED Tru-Finder in a class-leading compact body. Along with the DSC-HX90V model, the HX80 camera becomes the only compact high-zoom camera with a retractable electronic viewfinder, making it an extremely appealing and flexible solution for travel and family photography and video shooting. .

The HX80 also features a high-resolution, 921k dot LCD screen that tilts a full 180 degrees for comfortable arms-length portraits or “selfies” and is Wi-Fi / NFC compatible.

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Key features for the new model are included below:

Compact Hi-Zoom HX80 Camera w/ Built-in Retractable EVF

Available in April for about $350

· Premium 30x ZEISS Vario-Sonnar T* optical zoom lens with 60x “Clear Image” digital zoom capability

· Built-in pop-up OLED Tru-Finder EVF w/ high contrast and vivid colors

· 18.2 MP Exmor R CMOS sensor and BIONZ X processor ensure the finest capture details for still images and Full HD videos in all lighting conditions

· Optical SteadyShot with 5-axis image stabilization minimizes effects of camera shake

· 921k dot, 3.0 type LCD screen that tilts a full 180 degrees

· Full HD movie shooting capabilities including high-speed XAVC S format at 50 Mbps

· Built-in ‘pop up’ flash for low-light shooting support

· Compatible with Wi-Fi / NFC for seamless wireless transfer of content and with select Sony PlayMemories™ Camera apps

A variety of exclusive stories and exciting new content shot with Sony imaging products can be found at www.alphauniverse.com, Sony’s growing community site built to educate, inspire and showcase all fans and customers of the Sony imaging brand.

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Sony Announces Development of New Wireless Lighting Control System at WPPI 2016

LAS VEGAS, Mar. 7, 2016 – Sony Electronics, a worldwide leader in digital imaging and the world’s largest image sensor manufacturer, has today announced plans to release a new wireless lighting control system to meet the growing demands of professional Sony photographers.

Designed for compatibility with their α interchangeable cameras and external flash units, the new lighting system will include the FA-WRC1M wireless radio commander as well as the FA-WRR1 wireless radio receiver. A prototype of the new system will be on display in Sony’s booth at WPPI 2016.

With a maximum range of 30m (approx. 98 feet), the new radio controlled system will allow for an extremely flexible wireless flash shooting experience with exceptional performance in all types of shooting conditions. In total, the system can control a maximum of 15 separate flash units in up to 5 groups of flashes. While using the system, photographers have the ability to control the exposure of connected flash units either manually or automatically depending on preference. Additionally, the new lighting control system will be capable of flash sync speeds of up to 1/250th of a second with high speed sync (HSS) available as well.

The new Wireless Lighting Control system will be available this summer at authorized retailers throughout the US and Canadian markets. Pricing and detailed specifications will be released at a later date.

Mar 032016
 

The Leica 40mm Minilux Summarit f/2.4 and Techart AF Adapter

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Ever since my hands started using the new TECHART Leica AF adapter I have been shooting it almost non stop. I have been in Miami testing the new Sony G Master lenses for the past few days and have snuck in a few here and there with the little TECHART and Summarit 40 f/2.4. Yep, the lens is actually from the Minilux film point and shoot, converted into an M lens housing and mount.

Many have been emailing me non stop asking if the AF Adapter for Sony really works, or works well. Well, it works pretty damn good and while it is not perfect, it is a first version product that does very well right out of the gate. MUCH better than I thought it would to be honest. MUCH better. I even let a few fellow photographer friends try it out this week and there were “oohs and as” from them all.

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I have no relationship with Techart at all, but they did send me the adapter to give my honest opinion on, and I have to say, I am really enjoying it as it will Auto Focus an M lens faster than I can usually accurately manually focus one (again, on a Sony A7 series body).

Now, so far I have ONLY been using the 40 2.4 and a 50 Jupiter 3+ with it but so far, so good. Also, a this time I have only a Sony A7RII, and have not yet tested it on the new A6300 (which I did get chance to use this week, and it is also a stunning release from Sony) or the A7s or A7II. I plan on testing it on all of these cameras VERY SOON (when I get home this weekend).

So for now, I just want to be brief on the words, and share some images with the 40 2.4 Summarit on the A7RII using the AF adapter. I will give some thoughts above each image…

FIRST, YOU MUST MUST MUST click on the images to see them at their best. If you do not, they may appear soft. 

I was on a bus at night. When the bus stopped I looked out of the window and saw this man, alone, just looking side to side. I started up my A7RII which had the TECHART adapter and 40mm on it, and set it wide open, aimed, and took the shot. The lens focused quite quickly, using the contrast detection on the sensor. The Sony A7RII showed exactly where it focused and it nailed it.

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Low light, higher ISO..focused on the guy in the middle. Bam, no problem. Again, click it to see it larger and sharper. The adapter had no issue locking on, though due to low light it took about a second to lock on.

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Shot out of a bus window at f/2.4. I liked the art on the wall here..

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UP close with the 40 and AF adapter…locked on super quick here because the more light you have, the faster the AF. The adapter allows your Leica M lenses to focus a bit closer as well…

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This lens has a unique Leica like look to it, as it should. It’s a Leica! But it has more of a classic look to it, some vignetting as well, but I dig it for sure..

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The color from this Minilux lens is very pleasing. All of these are unedited OOC images BTW

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One more in the darkness…this one took maybe 1 1/2 seconds to lock on using the AF adapter but it locked on and focused the Leica M lens.

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Many are wondering if the TECHART adapter is worth the $349 asking price. I would say, it depends on you, your eyes and your manual focus skill. I am noticing as I get older, my eyes are not quite as sharp as they used to be. Manually focusing M lenses on a Sony is a process for 100% accuracy. EVF Magnify, turn the lens, focus and snap. That can take 5-20 seconds to do. With the AF adapter, my main worry is that it either just would not focus or it would be so slow, that manually focusing it would be better.

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After a few days with the Techart, it may become the only way I use M lenses on a Sony body. It works, and in many cases it is faster than manually focusing and it always seems to lock on, even if it takes 1-3 seconds to do so. In good light, it is fast enough but not a blazing AF monster. Think 2-3 year old digital camera AF speed ;) In the dark, it may frustrate as it needs to grab on to something with contrast to hit focus. Me, I always use center point focus for ANY camera I shoot, even when using Native glass on the A7 series. I want to focus on what I want to, not what the camera wants to but with this adapter we can use the center point mode or wide mode or any focus mode. If you want to manually focus the lens, you can do so just by focusing the lens and firing.

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While not perfect, this adapter is showing just what is possible with Mirrorless cameras today. This can NEVER be done on any DSLR, and the Sony A7RII is, as I and many have written about, absolutely stunning in all ways. With the Sony A7 series I can use M lenses, Canon lenses, Nikon lenses, Sony lenses, Zeiss lenses, Contax lenses and all kinds of lenses many may not even know exist. We can shoot video up to 4K, we have a live view and EVF that are wonderful to look through and use. In fact, the main weakness of the A7 series is the battery life, but those I know who shoot with the Sony usually have 3-4 batteries in their bag. I shot all week in Miami with an A7RII, ALL WEEK, and I am on battery #2 right now, the day I am heading back home. Even so I always tell Sony that they need a better battery, dual SD slots and an even more rugged build for true pro use.

My crystal ball says this is to come from them, one day…

As for battery life, as long as you do not machine gun fire your camera or chimp after every shot, the battery will last a while. I did not chimp once all week, I wanted to be surprised when I saw the images on my laptop and save battery life at the same time.

But next to the smart phone, mirrorless is the future for cameras for pros, enthusiasts and hobbyists and that is a fact. Seeing what companies like Sony, Olympus, Fuji and others are doing (all besides Canon and Nikon pretty much, who are remaining stagnant with DSLR’s only and weak mirrorless offerings) is inspiring as every year it gets better and better.

The TECHART adapter is something I feel could also get better and better, as I see a version 2 or 3 a couple of years down the line and I see it getting much faster. As is, it is worth the $349 if you have M lenses and a Sony A7 body and want Autofocus for these lenses. It really works my friends, and it is quite exciting for M lens owners who also own a Sony.

You can read more about the TECHART Adapter HERE. 

Feb 292016
 

IN HAND VIDEO: Techart Leica M Auto Focus adapter for Sony E Mount (A7 Series)

Screen Shot 2016-02-29 at 7.29.56 AM

Good morning and happy Monday to all! Yesterday I posted a video to my YouTube channel showing off the TECHART Leica M AF Adapter for Sony E mount and yes, it works and works pretty well. See the video below where I tested the adapter with the 40 2.4 Summarit which was converted from a Minilux to an M housing and mount. I also tested the adapter with a 50 Jupiter 3+ and 50 Summilux and it nails the focus every time. In the video below I show off the adapter and take some shots to show you how fast it will AF outdoors. Review soon, with many more thoughts on using it in different scenarios. So far, so good! You can pre-order the adapter HERE if you so desire, $349.

First Look at the Techart Adapter

Full Review SOON!

Feb 222016
 

A look at the 4V Design Lusso Slim Camera Strap

A few days ago I received a package from 4V design with a couple of straps inside the box. I had no idea what to expect but can state that I get shipped TONS of straps as it seems everyone in the photo world want their straps reviewed. I end up reviewing probably 25% of them as most are just copies of other straps. Sometimes a strap comes along that is beautiful in looks, comfortable when worn and made of high quality leather with important things like ADJUSTABILITY.

The straps from 4V that were in the box were their LUSSO SLIM strap as well as a Wrist Strap. BOTH have super soft high quality leather, unique color and can be adjusted very easily. If you go  to the 4V website (here) you will see that they are made in Italy, and that they seem to take their strap design and quality very seriously.

Screen Shot 2016-02-21 at 5.08.27 PM

When I unboxed the straps I did a quick video look on them which you can watch below if you so desire:

The strap is very comfy, since it has a memory foam padding with a very grippy surface where it hits your shoulder, so even heavy cameras will be soft and cozy on your shoulder and back. The leather quality is among the best I have seen in a strap, up there with exotic $300 straps. The details are fantastic and the black and cyan color combo is stunning. It just pops.

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Over the years I have used/tested and checked out hundreds of straps. I have a drawer full of them and change them out from time to time. With the Lusso slim, I may have found the strap that will stay on my beloved Sony A7RII for quite some time as its comfort is up there with the best and I love everything about it. Not much one can say in a strap review, but if you want to read more about these straps or the other straps in the 4V line, check out their website HERE.  Highly recommended.

If you want to order one, you can do so at B&H Photo HERE. They have all colors in stock!

 

Jan 212016
 
COOPERGF

COOPERGF

VIDEO BAG REVIEW: The Tenba Cooper Series 8 and 13 Slim

It’s that time again…more bags! It seems there is NEVER a shortage of camera bags to house your camera gear. Choices are everywhere and I have seen and tried so many over the years. Some of my faves have been Billingham, Wotancraft, Artisan and Artist, Think Tank, Hold Fast Gear, Fogg, and now TENBA as they have created a VERY attractive bag here in the Cooper series, and the cool part is that these are VERY well made and super functional as well as lightweight and attractive. Will the Cooper be for you? Maybe, take a look at the video below to see more!

More on the Tenba Cooper series can be seen HERE. 

 

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See more on the Cooper at Tenba HERE
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Jan 082016
 

A Look at the Wotancraft Hand Dyed Leather Apple Watch Band (Video)

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I enjoy my Apple watch and while I feel it is not the best value in watches it is a cool device that stays on my arm every day. I can check my calories burned, I can see how much activity I have done for the day, I can use it as my phone and speak to anyone on my wrist. I can check my schedules, important dates, notifications, my facebook and twitter and all kinds of cool things. When I bought my Apple Watch I was not thrilled with most of the bands that Apple made available for it, nor was I overly impressed with most 3rd party bands. Then I saw THESE at Wotancraft and I knew instantly I had to get one..

Wotancraft did not have an option on their site to order a band for an Apple Watch but I was informed by  them that any band they sell can be made for an Apple Watch. So if you want o order a watch band from Wotancraft, just tell them the sizes you need for a standard watch or if you want one for an Apple Watch just contact them ahead of the order. They can and will do it ;)

Below is a video I just posted showing my band from Wotancraft.com as well as me fitting my Leica SL and three M Lenses into a Wotancraft Raven bag, which is TINY! Enjoy!

Jan 072016
 

NEW Zeiss Mobile Phone High Quality Lenses

Looks like Zeiss is entering the mobile phone market! Well, LENSES made for phones that is. Zeiss is promising new high quality lenses that will be above any other phone lens made. IT’S A ZEISS and they look pretty cool in the photo below. Zeiss says these will be available 2nd quarter of 2016, so soon. I look forward to testing these out, and I will as soon as I can get a set to test.

You can see and learn  much more on this system HERE.

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Dec 102015
 

SCOUTXMAS

New Wotancraft Scout Special Christmas Edition Bag – Get it here.

ONE OF THE BEST camera bags ever made from Wotancraft, the SCOUT has just been made up in a special edition light green Christmas Edition. Besides the Ryker from Wotancraft (see my review here ) the Scout is my 2nd favorite bag from them. Its gorgeous, functional and made to last forever. It’s tough, comfortable to carry and this Christmas edition is easily holding my Leica SL, 24-90 Zoom and a 50 Summilux ASPH, which I am finding to be a perfect SL kit ;) My Ryker does not hold this kit, but the Scout does, and it fits nicely all snug inside of its protective housing.

This bag would be perfect for a Leica M system with 3-4 lenses, and accessories. It could also work with a DSLR or any Mirrorless system out there from Sony to Olympus to Samsung to Fuji. It’s not large but it’s not small, the scout is just right. It doesn’t look like a man purse, instead it is rugged and gives off a sense of adventure. It’s a beautiful bag…

front

Once you open the top flap you will see a protective cover that keeps your gear from rain or snow. I LOVE This feature of the Wotancraft bags. Zip this open to reveal the inside..

top

which has even more protection that covers your expensive gear. Flip open the flap and you will gain access to the interior…

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Inside is my Leica SL, 24-90 and a 50 Summilux ASPH. I can also fit the charger, sd cards, cables, and my iPad mini in the back.

open

back

Everything is of high quality with all Wotnacraft products. The Scout is for those who prefer a Canvas look instead of all leather like the Ryker…

pocket

topdown

I also received a VERY nice lens pouch from them (HOBBIT LENS POUCH) along with the bag that is above and beyond most lens pouches in regards to materials used and protection. I will use this without question and it will stay with my Scout.

lens

You can order this special limited edition Wotancraft Green Scout Christmas Edition NOW right here at Wotancraft direct. Mine arrived in 3 days and it is LOVELY in every aspect. You can see my review of this bag HERE. Same bag, new special color. 

Specs:

  • Light green canvas + light colored leather
  • The Wotancraft W.A.L canvas is based on tough Cordura fabric, with underside PU-coated to prevent water seepage, and further treated to look like natural cotton canvas. W.A.L stands for
  • Water-repellant, Abrasion-resistant, and Lightweight
  • Designed for mirrorless system (you can demo with Leica SL or your latest A7 system)
  • Becomes an everyday office / messenger bag once you remove the shock-resistant insert
  • Now on till 2015/12/31, order of Wotancraft camera bag comes with one HOBBIT camera lens / travel pouch as Christmas gift

– photojournalist’s most desired WOTANCRAFT camera bag. Inconspicuous, protective, with a slight touch of WWII military equipment aesthetics

– removable shock-resistant insert that fits mirrorless camera set x2, flash x1, and additional accessories

– padded compartment for 10″ laptop or iPad

– interior flap with zippers (bronze YKK with rustproof coating) ensure dust and rain resistance in ourdoor environments, with upstanding rim to avoid gear scuffing against zipper tooth

– back pocket with leather rain cap (tucked in by default), designed specifically for photojournalists to quickly access field journals

– curved ergonomic shoulder strap pad for maximum comfort when bearing weight, with anti-slippery padding lined underneath

– vegetable tanned full grain cowhide and sheep skin leather parts, with tough rugged skin creases and pores clearly visible

– bag exterior:
31 x 12 x 23 cm
removable insert interior:
27 x 10 x 20 cm
front pockets:
14 x 2 x 16 cm
back pocket:
30 x 15 cm
interior padded compartment:
29 x 23 cm
interior hidden pocket:
18 x 15 cm
shoulder strap:
adjustable between 90-130 cm
weight:
bag 0.725 / insert 0.36 / shoulder strap 0.245 kg

– package include:
SCOUT bag x1
padded divider (no cap) x2
padded divider (with cap) x2
adjustable shoulder strap x1
dustproof bag x1
“REMOVE BEFORE ADVENTURE” military ordnance tag key chain x1

Dec 032015
 

The Sony LA-EA4?

By Bill Spencer

 

If you have an A7 series camera, looking at one of these has probably crossed your mind at some time. The possibility of using Sony A series lenses as well the high performance older Minolta FA lens for me was quite irresistible. So when I purchased my A7II 9 months ago I quickly followed with the LA-EA4 so I could use my collection of Sony A series lens and some much older AF Minolta ones (which quite frankly are horrible if you have to manually focus them).The LA-EA3 adapter is good for Sony A mount lenses that have a built-in motor as it does not have a motor of its own. It has full electronic coupling betwixt camera and lens – so no good for screw drive lens. I just mention that for the odd person who is new to the system.

LA-EA4

The LA-EA4 adapter is not cheap! it is powered from the puny camera battery but strangely does not effect battery life as far as I can tell. Inside contains a semi translucent 45deg mirror which transfers about half a stop of light to a focus sensor array which covers about a quarter the image area with cross type sensors. There is a micro AF adjust but I have never had to use it. The adapter has a motor that has a lot of grunt, is loud, and is fast. The noise means that it is not much good for stealth street stuff. The power and speed means that Sony A lenses work very well. I have the lightweight 70 – 300mm G lens which has its own motor which overrides the adapter unit and is match made in heaven with impressive speed and accuracy all the way from closest focus to long distance even in really low light. The Sony 11 – 18 wide also works rather well using the adapter motor. Full frame is covered down to 15mm (it is an APSC lens). Continuing down to 11mm means you have to crop to the 15mm equivalent, but a minor advantage is that you can get square, landscape and portrait crops of about 18 from 24 megs from the images. The ‘steady shot’ function works seamlessly with Sony or Minolta lenses as does the lens profiling information which is useful. I think all the camera functions still work with the adapter – I have not yet found one that does not but, as you know, there are many and varied options and if you are like me once you have found a decent setup further messing gives way to picture making.

Playing with the A series APSC kit zoom is just ‘OK’ with the option of a cropped image in camera or a heavily vignetted full frame result. losing the half stop as well making it horrible all round.

All the Minolta AF lenses I have tried have worked but they are 20 to 30 years old so can be a bit variable. Both the 50mm F1.7 and 28mm F2.8 are quick and so far have coped with the power of the LA-EA4’s motor. The problem is that when auto focusing the ‘hard stops’ mechanism of the older lenses (at minimum and infinity focus) are not dampened in any way. My favourite lens, a 50mm macro has been literally ripped apart by this characteristic. A 35 – 70 zoom also works well but the weight of the focusing lens group gives it quite a kick as it works. This lens however works even better on my older A65 camera which has a more gentle focusing action.

Alert Squirrel 1/60 sec at F8 ISO-1000 300mm zoom

Alert Red Squirrel

You cannot help but notice there is a big lump sticking down from the adapter that contains the mechanism. It has a tripod mount to use instead of the cameras tripod mount. The lump fouls everything up so the adapter mount is the one to use. I have only tried it a couple of times on a tripod and it works fine. Part of the idea of a steadyshot camera, especially one with 4 stops shadow recovery, is to reduce need for a tripod. The size and shape of the lump has pluses and minuses depending on the lens in use. For me, with telephoto and zoom lenses I think it helps comfort and usability, but with shorter lenses it can become annoying and uncomfortable to the point I now prefer to put on a manual lens and go retro.

Other mechanicals such as the metal mounts are properly tight in use with no play except for the plastic mount Nex lenses which feel like they are going to fall off at any moment. The mount / dismount button is located on the left side and is good for a right-handed person ie press the button with your weaker hand and hold the lens with your better hand. The adapter seems strongly constructed in the ‘plastic fantastic’ tradition, but mine has a stress crack in one corner of the mirror which seems in my imagination to be getting bigger as time goes on. I do not think it is weather proof although I have been caught a couple of times in a sharp shower and suffered no damage.

Chains 1/60 sec F10 at F10 ISO-200 50mm prime

chains

Dust is less of a problem than I thought it would be. The few specks that have settled on both sides the mirror have been easy to get off with blower and a couple of more stubborn ones came away with a soft lens brush. Looking through it with a led torch it is still as clear as new except for the crack in the corner.

I left submitting this discussion until I had installed and used the latest much hyped A7II firmware version 1.2 update to see if anything was added or lost. Mechanically and functionally it has not made a noticeable difference to me. But! If I could roll back to a previous firmware version I would but it is not possible. It may be my imagination but the new uncompressed 14 bit files seem to have a noticeable sharpening mask added and they are huge. The 14 bit uncompressed files (as this it written) will not open into the latest Photoshop or Capture 1 and so far I have had to rely on the Sony software. Setting the ‘camera’ dialogue to ‘neutral’ in the software almost gets rid of the sharpening but not quite. Fortunately Compressed RAW when opened into Photoshop or Photoplus do not seem to be changed.

Spider on clothes peg 1/90 sec at F9.5 ISO-800 50mm macro

spider on clothes peg

Was it worth it? The answer for me is a definite Yes. Just to be able to use the 70 -300G zoom is enough. Shorter primes are a 50 – 50 proposition. For me, manual lenses are often more satisfying and precise. After all I can pre-focus and set my depth of field ahead of time just leaving the final quick tweak at taking stage whilst leaving the camera to sort out shutter speed or ISO as desired. Remember as well the LA-EA3 is worth looking at if you are using the latest firmware update and Sony lenses with built-in motors. Add to that the improved on chip focusing and there is of course that half stop bonus. I would definitely hire or borrow before parting with the cash.

Bill

 

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